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8 spectacular beaches with unusually colored sand

By: Josh Lew on July 17, 2014, 6:27 a.m.
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California

Photo: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr

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Pfeiffer Beach, California

Pfeiffer Beach is part of the Los Padres National Forest area near Big Sur, California. At first glance, this beach seems quite attractive because of its wide sandy shoreline and the interesting rock formation that sits just offshore.  Once you take your eyes off the stunning scenery and look down, you will notice that the fine sand that covers the beach is purple. The color is at its height after wintertime storms that blow in off the ocean, wetting the sand and washing particles down from the hillsides.   

Pfeiffer gets its color from particles of manganese garnet, a silicate mineral that washes down from the hills above the beach. Big Sur is certainly not one of the most crowded places in California, and limited parking and a small entrance fee keep the crowds away from Pfeiffer for the most part.